Best Brisnet Speed Figure: 98 (Risen Star)
COMMENTS: This guy ranks 13th on the Road to the Kentucky Derby scoreboard and, love him or hate him, trainer D. Wayne Lukas always shows up for the big dance if he can — which is why he’s tied with Todd Pletcher for the most total Kentucky Derby starters by a trainer (48).
From a speed and pace figure standpoint, Bravazo fits, although he’ll need to show he can come from further off the pace in the Bluegrass State, as there’s no way he’ll see the -2 early speed ration he saw in the Risen Star.
Historically, however, the son of Awesome Again is up against it. The last horse to win the roses after finishing worse than fourth in its final prep was Iron Liege in 1957 (and that was the race in which Bill Shoemaker misjudged the finish line aboard Gallant Man and lost by a nose). Since 1992, the ledger of losers stands at 60 — and only two of those horses managed to hit the board (both finished third).
Kentucky Derby Contender Profile: Magnum Moon
Best Brisnet Speed Figure: 100 (Rebel Stakes)
COMMENTS: This guy will have to break the dreaded “Curse of Apollo,” but his pace figures and running style sure remind me of Always Dreaming, last year’s Kentucky Derby champ who was also trained by Todd Pletcher.
Always Dreaming had a median late speed ration of -4 entering last year’s Run for the Roses, while Magnum Moon enters this year’s contest with a -5. I also like the fact that the son of Malibu Moon has handled each step up the class ladder with relative ease.
On the negative side, I abhor Magnum Moon’s final prep in the Arkansas Derby. Not only did the colt rate on a slow pace — horses that led at the first call of their final prep are 3-for-66, with a 0.83 impact value and 0.67 odds-based impact value (see below), in the Kentucky Derby since 1992 — but he drifted out as well.
Kentucky Derby Contender Profile: Gronkowski
Best Brisnet Speed Figure: 95 estimated (32Red Burradon Stakes).
COMMENTS: This colt, named after the New England Patriots’ great tight end Russ Francis (kidding, kidding — obviously, he was named after Rob Gronkowski), lost his first two races on the grass, but is undefeated on all-weather surfaces in England. His sire, Lonhro, won at distances ranging from six to 10 furlongs in Australia and also sired five-time Group 1 winner Pierro, who banked nearly $4.1 million in his 13-race career (also in Australia).
Horses that last raced on an all-weather surface actually have a decent record in the Kentucky Derby, with both Street Sense (2007) and Animal Kingdom (2011) visiting the winner’s circle from 49 starters (0.79 impact value, 0.84 odds-based impact value). But, of course, both those colts raced previously in the United States. Since 1997, 15 foreign shippers have competed in the Run for the Roses — and not one of them has hit the board.
There are also questions regarding the level of competition Gronkowski has faced and the fact that he has never gone beyond a mile. His best (estimated) Brisnet speed figure is just a 95 and horses that last raced at a distance less than 1 1/8 miles are 1-for-51 (0.34 IV, 0.40 OBIV) in the Kentucky Derby over the past 26 years.